Cancer Prevention: What Can You Do?
Thursday, February 4th marks World Cancer Day 2016. Last year, approximately 1,658,370 new cases of cancers were diagnosed in America. This means that cancer is something that many of us deal with on a daily basis, whether as someone battling a cancer or someone supporting a sick loved one. It’s unfortunate but cancer will affect almost all of us in some shape or form during our lives.
What is Cancer?
Cancer isn’t just one disease but rather a group of more than 100 related diseases. All cancers start with some cells in a person’s body dividing without stopping and spreading to surrounding tissues. Cancers can be genetic or they can arise due to exposure to cancer-causing substances or by a person’s lifestyle. Common cancers include carcinomas, sarcomas, leukemia and melanomas. Fortunately, not all cancers are fatal and there are even some cancer prevention methods.
Cancer in the United States
Cancer is responsible for 25% of all deaths in the U.S. each year. For men, prostate cancer is the most common occurrence. For women, it is breast cancer. Leukemia is the cancer most commonly diagnosed in children and teenagers. Generally speaking, there are some differences between the cancers commonly seen in women and in men:
|Cancers In Women||%||Cancers In Men||%|
|Breast Cancer||26%||Prostate Cancer||25%|
|Other Cancers||22%||Other Cancers||20%|
|Lung Cancer||14%||Lung Cancer||15%|
|Colorectal Cancer||10%||Colorectal Cancer||10%|
|Endometrial Cancer||7%||Bladder Cancer||7%|
|Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma||4%||Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma||5%|
|Thyroid Cancer||4%||Skin Melanoma||5%|
|Skin Melanoma||4%||Kidney Cancer||4%|
|Kidney Cancer||3%||Pancreatic Cancer||3%|
|Leukemia||3%||Oral & Pharyngeal Cancer||3%|
However, both men and women can adopt some healthy habits and make some lifestyle changes that could help prevent cancer.
Cancer Prevention Tips
We’re going to take a look at five tips which could help you protect yourself from cancer.
- Watch what you eat – A healthy diet is good for your overall wellbeing and not just for cancer prevention. Try to base your diet on foods that grow – for example fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and wholegrains. When possible, choose olive oil over butter or other bad fats and choose fish over red meat. Processed meats should be avoided or at least limited to very small amounts. There is a popular myth that sugar feeds cancer cells but it really is just a myth. However, sugar consumption should also be limited as an excess can lead to weight gain which is associated with some cancers. If you are looking for a sample diet to follow, a Mediterranean diet is highly recommended as studies have shown that this diet is linked to a reduced cancer risk.
- Drink alcohol in moderation – Alcohol has been linked to a number of cancers including lung, breast, kidney, liver and colon cancers. For those who like a drink from time to time, the bad news is that there is no safe we to consume alcohol. However, the amount you drink and the length of time you have been drinking alcohol can influence your risk of developing cancer. The more you drink, the higher your chance of developing a cancer. Responsible drinking for cancer prevention involves limiting how much you drink or cutting booze out altogether.
- Ditch the cigarettes – There is a reason cigarettes are sometimes referred to as “cancer sticks”: any kind of exposure to tobacco puts you at risk of developing cancer. This includes smoking cigarettes, pipes or cigars, chewing tobacco or inhaling second hand cigarette smoke. With all the research available, there is virtually no reason why someone in this day and age continues to smoke. Half of all smokers will die from smoking related illnesses. In fact, tobacco is considered to be the greatest cause of preventable deaths worldwide. Quitting tobacco can be hard but if you are truly interested in cancer prevention there are a number of products which can help you quit. Before settling on a stop-smoking product, consult with a doctor to see what option is best for you.
- Protect yourself from the sun – depending on where you live, excessive sun exposure may be hard to avoid. The sun can cause skin cancer which is considered to be one of the most preventable cancers. When out and about, try to stay in shady areas and layer up with plenty of sunscreen. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen if you’re out for an extended period of time. Wide brimmed hats and sunglasses are also a must when it comes to avoiding the harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. On a related note, sunbeds should also be avoided at all costs!
- Get physical – It is recommended that people get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Many of us fail to meet that target. If you need some motivation to get moving keep in mind that exercise is linked to lower rates of a number of cancers, including breast and lung cancers. Physical activity helps people maintain healthy body weights and exercise is also associated with maintaining hormonal balances which are also linked to cancer prevention.
The tips above are just a few things you can do to protect you and others from cancer. There are other things you can do too including limiting how often you use microwaves and using natural cleaning supplies and beauty products. If you have any concerns about cancer, talk to your doctor for advice.
Feeling better about your health or fitness shouldn’t be a chore. If you ever need some extra support, come by BEFIT to speak with one of our trainers or simply fill out a Free Consultation Request by clicking the link and a fitness professional will reach out to you within 24 hours.